Exercise: Two Cavalletti on a Straight Line
I start the exercise by cantering Chance straight to the middle of the first cavalletti. Because we arrive in a nice comfortable balance, he simply steps over the cavalletti. In the air, we’re both focusing on the second cavalletti. I’ve gotten a little ahead of the motion here—I’d like to see my seat closer to the saddle and my upper body not quite so forward. After we land, I keep the nice connection between my hands and the bit so we maintain the same rhythm and balance on a straight track all the way to the center of the second cavalletti.
Next, we approach the first cavalletti in a more forward canter, aiming to leave out a stride in the line. When Chance takes a slightly bigger canter step over it, he twists his shoulders subtly. This is his naturally weaker lead and he’s finding it a little more difficult to maintain his straightness in the more forward canter. I correct him by keeping my body straight on my desired line and using my inner (right) thigh and calf to push him back on track. My correction works and he lands straight on the track. I lighten my seat, using my body to encourage him to continue in the forward canter to the second cavalletti, and leave out a stride. I haven’t abandoned him, though—I still have a nice connection to his mouth and my legs are gently wrapped around his sides to provide support.
Finally, we approach the line in a more collected canter. I sink my weight closer to the saddle and bring my upper body back slightly, asking Chance to shorten his stride. Because he is very experienced and adjustable, I aim to add two strides this time. After jumping the first cavalletti, I sit up a little more in the saddle and ask him to maintain this collected canter all the way to the second cavalletti. Compare his shorter stride and more compressed frame here to the canter we had in Photo 4. Although this is harder work for him, he’s still responding obediently to my rein contact and staying straight through his body, so we’ll arrive at the second cavalletti in a nice balance.
Ride the line five times in one direction, take a break and repeat in the other direction. Start with comfortable striding for your horse and then add or subtract strides in subsequent passes. See “Beginner Plan” and “Advanced Plan” below for suggested striding per pass.